AgustaWestland crews at Hagerstown Regional Airport repair military helicopters, said Timothy R. Troxell, executive director for the Hagerstown-Washington County Economic Development Commission.
Workers at Letterkenny Army Depot north of Chambersburg, Pa., retool Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles, or MRAPs, so they can find and detonate improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, in Iraq and Afghanistan, said Mark Sheffield, deputy to the depot commander.
Those are just a few examples of how the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks influenced the Tri-State economy during the past decade.
According to the Associated Press, 2,977 people died as a result of the attacks at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and in the crash of United Airlines Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pa. The figures do not include the 19 hijackers aboard the four airplanes involved.
The attacks created the need for a variety of new services and goods as the nation looked to strengthen its internal defenses and went to war in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“I think what we saw post-9/11 in the Tri-State area from literally ... 2001 up until 2007, was maybe one of the best times for economic development that the Tri-State has ever experienced, both for residential growth as well as commercial and industrial expansions,” said L. Michael Ross, president of the Franklin County (Pa.) Area Development Corp.
After the recession hit in late 2007, the area saw a drop in construction, particularly residential construction, followed by a decline in manufacturing and in 2009, the bottom fell out, Ross said.
But defense spending continued to benefit Franklin County “and in some ways, had a ripple effect across the Tri-State,” Ross said.
Defense-related businesses and government agencies generated jobs, which in many cases brought in new people who were buying homes, Tri-State economic development officials said. The work provided business for numerous companies that did work for the bigger firms or federal agencies.
Retailers, restaurants and hotels also benefited from spending by the firms’ and agencies’ employees and customers.
As tragic as 9/11 was for the nation and the world, the resulting business at Letterkenny helped Franklin County “survive the recession in better condition than a lot of areas both regionally and nationally,” Ross said.
Oshkosh Corp., which owns the lift equipment firm JLG, has offices in Washington, Franklin and Fulton counties and Manitowoc, which produces Grove Cranes in Shady Grove, Pa., both benefited from increased defense department spending after 9/11, Ross said.
But Letterkenny is Franklin County’s largest employer, he said.
Letterkenny’s direct labor hours were at about 990,000 in fiscal 2002 and are projected to be 3.3 million in the fiscal year that starts Oct. 1, said Mark Sheffield, deputy to the commander there.
The number of government employees at Letterkenny increased from about 1,000 before 9/11 to about 1,700 today, Sheffield said. The depot has almost 1,100 contractors and around 70 National Guard members and reservists on active duty.
“We estimated about $315 million went directly into the local economy in (2010),” Sheffield said.
That estimate consists of $201 million in payroll for the government workers and $114 million through government purchases that didn’t require a contract, such as a tire for a forklift, he said.